To the Riverview Church Family,
On the weekend of April 8th and 9th 2017, Haydn Nelson and the Board of Riverview Church made some significant announcements about its current situation and its future.
In the first three months of 2017, the church operational giving has been significantly under budget. This is despite a strong focus on vision and the church building campaign in the months of February and March. Due to this, Riverview Church needs to reduce up to 30% of its operational budget, most of which will need to come from staffing costs.
The decision to renovate our current Burswood building was based upon the need to make our building safe and the 2015 financial figures indicated that the church was in a position to do so. In 2016, whilst our building was being renovated, we held services offsite at Curtin University. During this time, both attendance and general giving dropped by approximately 25%. Since returning to Burswood, attendance has risen, but general giving has not.
In 2017, the building campaign, which generates finances for the building renovation, aimed to raise $2.2 million.
The amount pledged is far below what is needed, and more sobering is the fact that only just over 400 pledges were made. In a church of over 5000, this indicates a minimal level of engagement from the individuals and families who call Riverview home.
The renovation of the building will now be put on hold. We would like to note that we are thankful to PACT Construction for their generosity and compassion in allowing us to pause work the on next stages of the construction for up to 12 months.
Haydn Nelson has resigned as the Senior Minister of Riverview Church
This minimal level of engagement has led Haydn to the realisation that the church is not following his leadership and he has made the personal decision to offer his resignation to the Board.
The Board’s role is to provide accountability and responsible governance to the church. They gave considerable time to prayer, discussion and research in considering this matter, including consulting with key members of staff. They concluded that the right decision was to accept Haydn’s resignation. It was a unanimous decision amongst the Board.
Currently, there is a strong sense amongst leadership and staff that a chapter is closing and a new one beginning. The final decision came down to a shared and confident belief that Haydn has completed what God has called him to do as Senior Minister of Riverview Church.
We respect that many people will be both shocked and disappointed by this decision, however we must release Haydn to where he feels God calling him.
During his address to the church (9th April, 2017 11:00am service), Haydn Nelson said the following:
I want you to know, I am not being railroaded here. I am not being pushed. In fact, the Board is not holding me solely responsible for finances. We are all responsible for that. Finances are not the reason.
I am firm that if I was a Board Member, knowing what they know and being told what they have been told, all of which is true, I would have made the same decision.
It is important that we be clear that Haydn has not done anything wrong. He is recognised widely as a man of integrity.
Haydn is deeply loved and we are committed to honouring both his leadership and legacy during this transition. He will continue to hold the position of Senior Minister until the end of April at which time we will publicly honour and thank him for all that he has done for this church.
Interim Leadership of Riverview Church
The leadership recognise that in a season like this, one of the top priorities is to ensure the continuity of ministry here at Riverview, both across the weekend services and during the week.
To help us achieve this we have reached out to Tim and Liezl Healy and asked them if they would be able and willing to return to staff as Interim Senior Minister and Interim Executive Minister alongside Dorcas White. Tim and Liezl were asked because they have faithfully served this church for almost 10 years and they are highly respected amongst the staff and congregation for their leadership, communication and ministry.
Tim Healy will be the Interim Senior Minister of Riverview Church
They will also be working with the Board and leadership team to find short and long-term solutions to the current challenges we face and address some of the issues that have resulted in the situation we are in.
Although they are currently overseas visiting family, they have already begun to work on plans to help us all navigate our way through this situation and will be in regular contact with staff.
From Monday 1st May 2017, Tim will assume the role of Interim Senior Minister for a period of six months while the Board undertake the process to find a new Senior Minister.
Please join us in praying for Riverview
We are calling the church to a time of prayer and fasting. We believe that God must be at the centre of this church and we must seek His wisdom and favour as we move forward. Please join with us to pray corporately every night this week from 6pm to 8pm (Monday 10th – Thursday 13th April) in Riverview Church’s foyer.
There will be a Q&A night on Wednesday 19th of April in the Riverview Auditorium for those who seek further clarification. We value you and we value your voice. Please join us in committing to honesty, transparency and love during this time. Further information on this night will placed on our website in the coming days.
We understand and respect the hurt and disappointment many of you will feel. We pray that you will find peace in this decision as Haydn, his family and the leadership team have done.
Now is the time for us to individually and collectively respond to this information as it will shape the future of our church. We will become an example of how people from diverse walks of life and cultural backgrounds can show unity, love and solidarity amid trouble. That even if they are confused or don’t agree, they hold together.
The eyes of churches across this city and nation are now upon us. For decades, Riverview has been an iconic church in this nation whom other churches have looked to for leadership and on how to do church well. Let us continue in this mandate and show those watching how well we can unify around honouring a great man of faith, Haydn Nelson, and also transition leadership well. We will be an example of how a large community can support and love each other despite hardship.
Finally, during this time of seeking God about the future of Riverview Church, we ask that you open your heart to Him and ask Him if there is anything more you can do to support this church whether it be in prayer, attendance, volunteering or giving. If the answer is no, then we encourage you to be at peace. If you sense there is more you can do, then we ask you, our community, to be true to that call.
If God’s plan is for Riverview Church to survive, its future will depend on the men and women who are willing to respond to that call.
In his address to our church Haydn said the following:
God’s got me. God’s got you. God has got us. It’s just up to us - that’s all it is. Everyone here has a part to play, and God is calling on you to do that.
Even though my chapter is coming to a close, it is time for new leadership. It’s time for a new chapter.
(9th April, 2017 11:00am service)
Let us honour Haydn by responding to God’s call for us to step boldly and courageously into this new chapter for Riverview Church.
The Board & Staff of Riverview Church